WASHINGTON — Max Scherzer is 35. So is Ryan Zimmerman.
The Washington Nationals would not be headed to a win-or-go-home Game 5 in their NL Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers without them.
“We’re a bunch of yahoos. We’re old guys,” Scherzer joked. “Old guys can still do it.”
Sure can. And for a guy whose teams used to lose repeatedly in the postseason, Scherzer sure is delivering now.
Every time he’s pitched this October, the Nationals have won. His latest outing was a season-saving, seven-inning masterpiece that combined with Zimmerman’s three-run parabola of a homer to lift the wild-card Nationals to a 6-1 victory over league-best Los Angeles on Monday night, tying the best-of-five NLDS at two games apiece.
“I was just gassed. I was out,” said Scherzer, who threw 109 pitches. “I was empty in the tank.”
Scowling and muttering to himself as showers fell for part of his gritty performance, Scherzer allowed one run and four hits while striking out nine — and, most importantly for Washington, he prevented LA from closing out the NLDS after taking a 2-1 lead into Game 4.
“He really gave it all he had,” said Anthony Rendon, who drove in three runs for Washington.
With fans who braved rain chanting, “Beat LA!” in the late going, Sean Doolittle and Daniel Hudson combined to get the last six outs for Washington, which will send Stephen Strasburg to the mound against Walker Buehler on Wednesday night at Los Angeles.
“If I could bet, I’d bet on him,” Nationals outfielder Adam Eaton said about Strasburg. “He’s a very good pitcher. A polished pitcher. To have him healthy and ready to go in that situation only boosts our confidence.”
Cardinals 5, Braves 4
ST. LOUIS — Yadier Molina pushed St. Louis to a deciding Game 5 of the NL Division Series, hitting a tying single in the eighth inning and a winning sacrifice fly in the 10th to beat Atlanta Monday.
Molina slung his bat far into the outfield after his winner, and the packed crowd at Busch Stadium roared along with him.
Game 5 will be Wednesday back in Atlanta. The Cardinals will have ace Jack Flaherty on the mound, and the Braves will go with Mike Foltynewicz.
Kolten Wong led off the St. Louis 10th with a ground-rule double against Julio Teheran. After Paul Goldschmidt was intentionally walked, Wong advanced on Marcell Ozuna’s forceout and easily scampered home on Molina’s deep fly to left field.
Wong threw his hands in the air as he ran toward the plate. Molina rounded first base with his bat in hand, then flung it as the celebration erupted. The longtime star catcher discarded his batting helmet as the rest of the Cardinals poured onto the field.
Molina made it 4-all a two-out single in the eighth that went just off the top of the glove of a leaping Freddie Freeman at first.
Ozuna homered twice.
Rays 10, Astros 3
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Kevin Kiermaier hit a go-ahead, three-run homer as Tampa Bay teed off on Zack Greinke, and the Rays backed another clutch playoff pitching performance by Charlie Morton to beat Houston Monday and cut their AL Division Series deficit to 2-1.
Facing the team he helped win the World Series two years ago, Morton allowed one run and three hits while striking out nine over five innings to force Game 4 in the best-of-five matchup at Tropicana Field on Tuesday.
The 35-year-old Morton is 4-0 with an 0.95 ERA in four career elimination starts, including last week’s wild-card win.
Kiermaier got the wild-card Rays going with his shot the second inning. Ji-Man Choi and Brandon Lowe added solo shots off Greinke, who has never won in Tampa Bay, and Willy Adames added a solo blast against Wade Miley in the sixth.
The four home runs matched a franchise record for a postseason game. The Rays also went deep four times against the Boston Red Sox during the 2008 AL Championship Series and did it again during last week’s 5-1 wild-card victory at Oakland in the AL wild-card game.
Yankees 5, Twins 1
MINNEAPOLIS — Gleyber Torres got New York going with a second-inning home run, scored on each of his two doubles and made a pair of sparkling defensive plays, fueling the Yankees to a 5-1 victory over Minnesota on Monday night to finish yet another sweep of the Twins and advance to the AL Championship Series.
Didi Gregorius hit two RBI singles for the Yankees, who stretched their postseason winning streak over the Twins to 13 straight games. Minnesota has lost 16 consecutive postseason games, matching matched the North American major sports record held by the Chicago Blackhawks in the NHL from 1975-79.
New York starts the AL Championship Series on Saturday, at home against Tampa Bay or at Houston.